The number of patents granted globally in Q1 2022 rose to more than 1.1 million, according to GlobalData’s Patent Analytics database, representing an 8% year-on-year growth. This uptick in patents granted was driven by China, where utility model patents grew by 29%. However, patent filings in the country declined from 812,000 to 716,000.

Inconsistent trend across major patent offices

The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) registered the highest growth in filings of 21% in Q1 2022, with technology, media and telecoms (TMT), automotives, healthcare and oil and gas leading the way. The US registered a 12% increase in filings, and the country has implemented a patent programme to optimise the application pendency that triggered the surge in patent filings.

However, many authorities have seen falling numbers. Amid the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Russia passed a law allowing the unrestricted use of patents owned by unfriendly countries, which could be a key reason for the country having fewer patent filings and grants. Additionally, according to a UK government intellectual property report, there is evidence of a small number of applicants switching from the British patent office to the European Patent Office due to disparities in fees and coverage, which led to a drop in patent filings in the UK. Meanwhile the Australian government passed legislation in August 2021 to phase out innovation patents, which resulted in a drop in Australian patent grants.

Asian companies dominate patent filings

Eight of the top ten patent filing companies are headquartered in Asia. According to a WIPO report, the rise of investments in innovative and creative industries, and the need to secure these investments through intellectual property, is pushing forward the patenting activity in Asia.

Samsung was the leading filer, recording 9,203 patents in Q1 2022. This was a 41% increase on the number of patents the company filed in Q1 2021. Samsung’s innovation focus was on semiconductors, wireless communications, digital data processing and video-on-demand technologies.

Bosch witnessed the highest growth in patent filings in Q1 2022 at 63%. More than 40% of the company's filings from Germany revolve around electric batteries, hybrid automobiles, electric vehicles (EVs) and radio navigation.

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AI sees the highest growth in patents in Q1 2022

AI recorded the highest annual average growth rate of patents filed between Q1 2018 and Q1 2022. The growth of 28% was primarily down to developments in machine learning models, speech recognition, image analysis and natural language processing systems.

The number of fintech-related patents filed grew on average by 6% across this time period. The fintech industry’s research was in payment architectures, e-commerce and cryptography.

Cybersecurity registered an annual average growth rate of 4% between Q1 2018 and Q1 2022, with China’s tech giant Huawei standing as the top filer. Most of Huawei’s patent inventions are related to security arrangements to protect computers against unauthorised activity, verifying user identity or authorisation, and 5G security.

Top patented sectors

The power and utilities sector witnessed an average annual growth rate in patents of 14% between Q1 2018 and Q1 2022, with the highest share in power generation using solar-based technologies.

Key patented themes within power and utilities were climate change, emissions reductions, renewable energy, industrial automation and EVs. China and the US were the leading patent authorities for power and utility filings and grants. Siemens was the top patent filer in Q1 2022 with 268 power and utilities-related patents filed. General Electric and State Grid Corporation of China were the next biggest filers.

The Covid-19 pandemic has prompted the retail sector to find new methods of approaching customers including online retail, delivery robots and supply chain analytics, which have boosted the sector's growth.

Financial services grew by 4% for patents between Q1 2018 and Q1 2022, mostly due to inventions in the cards and payments industry. Payment architecture, e-commerce and financial data security platforms were the main topics covered under cards and payments. The TMT sector grew by a 4% average annual growth rate thanks to increased research engagement in digitalisation, cybersecurity and machine learning.

The analysis in this article is derived from a report compiled by Darshana Siddharth Naranje, senior analyst at GlobalData’s Patent Analytics database. The report is based on GlobalData's Patent Analytics database, which covers a bibliography from all 100-plus patenting authorities.